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Full text of "The Chignecto Railway case [microform] : correspondence, May, 1901"

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^ /APPLIED IIVMGE In. 



1653 Eoit Main Sl-ei 



Chignecto Railway Company 



Ottawa, May i, 1901. 
71 lit Honorable Ike Members of the 

Canadian Senate and House oj Commons. 

Gbntumbn, — 

In a brief statemnit of facts relating to this enterprise sent to you 
recently, I explained how the investors had been induced to sub- 
scribe for the tx>nds and shares in the Railway, on which after expend- 
ing about $4,000,000 the work remains uncompleted. Since June 1894 
we have been ready to recommence and finish it and have since then con- 
stantly pressed our moral and equitable right to the re-enactment of the 
subslay by which the Government induced us to undertake the work. 

If the Government will not ask Farliameut to nvote our sutsidy we 
have offered to accept a sum as compensation, which, if we cannot agree 
upon, we are willing should be fixed by arbitration. 

And as the public mind has been prejudiced against us by misleading 
statements we have asked for a Select Committee to hear our case and 
report to Parliament or that the Hon. Mr. Justice Burbidge might be 
appointed a Commissioner to hear and report the facts. Neither pro- 
posal har leen accepted by the Government. The correspondence here- 
with deas with these proposals. 

I am, ., 

Honorable Members of the Ci'"Mi«n Parliament, 

Your most obedient servant, 

A. D. PROVAND, 

A Director of the Company, 



Ottawa, march 14th 1901. 
To The Right Honourable Sir Wilprid Lauribr, 

Prinie Minister. 
Dear Sir :— 

CHtONRCTO RAILW ^V. 

It is more than eight weeks since I came to Ottawa during which 
we have had many interviews regarding a Committee to consider 
our case without any result being arrived at and T therefore now address 
you with the object of assisting to reach a decision on this point. 

We have bc«ii ready since June 1894 to recommence construction and 
complete the Railway. I have been here every year f mce then seekin. to 
have our subsidy renewed to enable us to do so. We consider that we 
are entitled to this or to compemation and base our claim on the moral 
and equitable liability of the Canadian Government according to the' 
invariable practice with Canadian contractors in renewing charters and 
subsidies and also on the practice of all govem**^ents in similar cases. 

The Hon. Mr. Fielding, convener of the oub-Cummittee to whom 
tills question hns been referred, has proposed that we should recommence 
proceedings by introducing a private bill to revive the Company's 
Charter as we did in 1896 and that the Government would allow the Bill 
to go before the Railway Committee in the usual way. Our position 
has ho^vever entirely changed meantime. In iS;)6 1 ha^ the promise of 
the Government that they would revote the subsidy and we therefore 
introduced a private bill for the revival of the charter. But we have no 
promise from the present Government that they will renew the sutmidy. 
On th. contrary they have informed us that in their judgment it ought 
not to be renewed. To introduce a private bill would therefore merely 
entail on us the loss of much time and money and be without value if we 
got it. 

I submit we should first be allowed an opportunity of satisfying 
Parliament and the Government that we are entitled to our subsidy or to 
compensation, and if the former a renewal of charter rould tollow. You 
have said that you are agreeable we should have such an opportunity and 
say that a private bill committee would give it. On this point we differ. 
Within the scope 0/ a private bill to revive the chr.rler we could pre- 
sent nothing whatever of our case for a revival of the jubsidy except by 
the express permission of the committee, a most unlikely course to be 
adopted. Such procedure would be totally contrary to the established 
practice of the Railway Committee which confines itself to evidence relat- 
ing to the bill before them. But if they heard all we haa to say it would 
serve no purpose, as they keep no record and make 110 report except that 
a preamble is proved or not as the case may be, and therefore Parliament 
and the Governement would get no information on the subject even if 
the Bill was passed, and if it were rejected those unfriendly to us would 
at once say we liad received another opportunity of laying our case before 
a committee and had failed to satisfy it that we had a grievance that should 
be recognized — and this would be said even although we had been refused 
the privilege of saying anything in regard to our daim. 



The opportunity which you ( ly would be afforded to os Sy introdnc- 
ini! a private bill comes to this, that ai-timitig the Coinmittee departed 
entirely from in e<tabliHhed practice and allowed us to give evidence 
altoKether outsidu of the scope of the hill liefore it which they recorded 
and reporte<l to Parliament, then we minht have the opportunity you 
desire m to obtain. But I have consulted members of the House, counsel 
who practice before Committees, and Sir John Boutinol. Clerk of the 
House, and their replies to ray questions make it clear to me that neither 
the Railway Committee nor any sub-crnniittee i. might appoint would 
act in this way. If, however, you cai. assure ne that in our case the 
Committee before w.jch the Bill went would hear and record all the 
evidence offered and report upon il to the H )u»e after the manner of a 
Select CDmmittee I shall re-consider your offer, but without this assur- 
ance I feel compelled, in the interest of those I represent . 'o decline it as 
the only reiult that could follow from it would he misle 'ding and pre- 
judi>ial to the investors. 

But as you hive made this offer to us in order that we may have an 
opportunity of stating our case, there should be no objection by the 
Government to the appointm.-nt of a Select Conimittee, before which I 
could lay it for consideration and report to the House. Such a Commit- 
tee would ensure u* the opportunity to state our case, which you have 
told me yju desire us to :ave. For doing so there are many precedents 
It is the usual Parliamentary method of dealing with such questions, and 
in appointing it the Government would be accepting no responsibii;ty- - 
they way wr.'le n-.j to this affect— to adopt any recommendations it 
made. On the other hand the report might suggest a means of arriving 
at a satisfactory settlement. 

I am now in mv ninth week ir Ottawa endeavoring to have our 
claims dealt with, and the question of a Committee, has been before the 
Government most of that time. I most earnesly and respectfully request 
that you will kir-ily siind me a reply within a day or two yihether the 
Government will agree to the appointment of a Select Committee on their 
own motion or on that of a private member to deal with this question. 
' 'uve the honor to bt Sir, 

Your obedie.it servant, 

(Signed) A, D. PROVAND. 



Ottawa, 20th march, 1901. 

Dear Sir, 

From your last letter re.-eived yesterday, I understand thr.t ycu 
desire an official answer to youi of the 14th instont. In view of the 
several conversations which we nave had on the subject, I thought this 
unnecessary , for you make yourself the statement in your letter that : 
" The H'lii. Mr. Fielding, convener of the sub-committee to whom this 
" questi as been referred, has proposed that we should recommence 
" proceeaiiigs by introducting a private bill to revive the Company's 
" charter as we did in 1896 and that the Govemn. .-nt would pUow the 
■' Bill to go before the Railway Committee in the us' al way." 



I h»ve thenfore iRiin to Inform you that the Oovernmnit wUwre to 
thi( uumr conv-yed to you by Mr. Fielding. 

Youra mpertfully, 
A. D. P.OVAKD. Esfl. '"«""" WILFRID LAURIER. 

Ridcan Club, 

OtUwa. 



Th. Right Honourable Sir Wilfrid UurtT;*'*' "*"'" """• ""'■ 

Prime Minister. 
Dear Sir, 

CHIGNHCTO KAILWAV. 

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the joth. inst in 
reply to mme of the 14th. It came too late to be added to the Statement 
of our ca« which had been already circulated to Members and Senators 
I much regret you have not informed me in reply to th- last para- 
graph m my letter, whether you will grant a Select Committev; to hear 
our aat. You merely repeat the o8er of a Committee to consider a Pri- 
vate Bill to revive the Company's charter which, for reasons given in my 
letter I connot accept, as unless it would act differently from the way in 
which any Railway Committee ever has acted (so far as I can as.»rtain) 
there would no opportumty given to us to Uy before it the facts on 
which we base our claim on the Government. 

I have the honour to be. Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

(Signed) A. D. PROVAND. 



To the Right Honourable, ^'™"'' '* "*"="■ '^' ' 

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, G. C. M. G., M. P 
Sir : 

CHIONBCTO RAILWAY. 

We are m receipt of a communication from Mr. Provand, enclosinir a 
COKT of his recent letter to tourself, urging the appointment of a Selkt 
Committe to consider the claims of those inter«ted in the Chignecto 
Marine Transport Railway. -.uigiretio 

We cannot help expressing our surprise that the committee has not 
been readily granted. It seems to us that such a Committee is now the 
on y means left by which those who have subscribed to that unfortunate 
enterprise can effectually place their case before your government the 
Canadian Parliament, and your poople at large, and explain to them tte 
terms on which British m ,ney was raised and expended in Canada 

Whatever might be the commercial practicability of an enterprise 
which Canadian experts pronounced to be not only feasible but likelv to 
promote the immediate benefit of the country, it is clear that a very large 
amount of Bnstish money was subscribed in the Ulief that, whatevS 
happened the credit of the Canadian Government was, to "ceitata 
extent, pledged to the support of the undertakmg 



Had It not been for this belief— not a penny would h»ve been raised 
In bnitland. or spent m Canada, and we cannot «ee how Mr. Provand c«n 
adequately urnc thi> liefor- your Parliament and Government if ^ Select 
Committee itt denied him. 

We feel very sitrouKly that i.. question i^ one of honour anil not of 
politics, and we are iturprised that any British Government should 
endeavor in a case of this kind, to repudiate eiiKaKemciits which other 
countries, such as the Argentine RepuXic, have been « iiiK in similar 
cases to recognize. 

We hope that you will reconsider your answer to Mr. Provand and 
consent to tne appointment of a .Select Committee. We cannot help 
thinlcinK that in so doing you will have behind yon the liest opinion of 
Canada, and that the adoirtion of a contrary coui will leave a blot on 
the financial reputation of the Dominion which cannot fail to affect her 
interests prejudicially whenever she may rgain seek to enlist the aasist- 
ance of British capitalists in the development of her Commercial under- 
takings. 

We have the honour ■ be, Sir, 

Your mc.s. obedient servants, 

(Signed) Edwakd Bond, 

Richard B. Maxtim, 
" J. Van Raai,tb. 
Truateea to the BonJ and SbareholHera. 



Dear Sim. Ottawa. ,„.. April. ,90,. 

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your favour of the 
»8th. march last, and in answer, I beg to enclose copy of a letter addrr aed 
by me to Mr. Provand, on the aoth. of the same month, 
I have the honour to be. 

Dear Sirs. 

Yours very sincerely, 

„ ~. .„ ^ (Signed) WILFRID LAURIER. 

Messrs, Edward Bond. 

Richard B. Martin. 

J. Van Raalte. 

London, England. 



Qgg^g;^ Ottawa, aoth. march, 1901. 

From your last letter received yesterday. I undersUnd that you desire 
an official answer to yours of the 14th. instant. In view of the several 
conversations wich we have had on the subject, I thought this unnecess- 
ray, for you make yourself the statement in your letter that • " The l£n 
;• Mr. Fielding, convener of the sub-committee to whom this question 
has been referred has proposed that we should recommence oroceed 
■ '»K''.by."nt'-oduciiigaprivate Bill to revive the Company's charter as 
■ we did in 1896 and the Government would allow the Bill to eo hefnn. 
■■ the Railway Committee in the usual way. " ■"^•uie 



I have therefore again to inform you that the Governraeni adhere to 
this answer conveyed to you by Mr. Fielding. 

Yours respectfully, 

(Signed) WILFRID LAURIER. 
A. D. Provand, Esq. 

Rideau Club, 

Ottawa. 



Ottawa, april 20th. 1901. 
To the Right Honourable Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 

Prime Minister. 
Dear Sir, 

CHIGNECTO RAILWAY. 

I beg to acknowledge receipt of a copv of your answer to the letter 
of the Trustees to the Investors, which I find is the same as your letter 
to me of the 20th. ult., and which was merely a sentence taken from my 
letter to you of the 14th. ult. That sentence was a summary of the offer 
in Mr, Fielding's letter to me of the 25th January, in which, after suggest- 
ing that I should recommence proceedings by introducing a private bill to 
revive the Company's charter, he gave me an assurance that " the 
" Government whould assist me so far as might be necessary to secure a 
" hearing for the bill before a Committee of the House." This was 
intended by the Hon. Mr. Fielding as a concession to us and as your 
answer to the Trustees is a repetition, in substance, of the same offer I 
may inferentially presume you also consider it to be so. It is therefore 
necessary to consider what is the nature of this offer. 

I have consulted Members, Counsel practising before Committees of 
the House and Sir John Bourinot the Clerk of the House of Commons 
ana am assured by all of them that they never knew a private railway 
bill asking for a charter or for the renewal of one being refused a second 
reading by the House, and that such bills are invariably read a second 
time and sent to a Committee. 

There has been one exception to this rule, namely, when the bill 
was introduced in i8g6 to revive this Company's charter, on that occasion 
the opposition, during the temporary- absence of Government supporters, 
departed from the practice of the House, and, treating that bill differently 
from any previous one, defeated it on a snap division by one vote. 

Therefore, the assurance you have given the Trustees comes to this, 
that if a private bill is introduced to renew the Company's charter, it will 
not suffer the indignity of being summarily rejected but will be sent to a 
Comraitteft 

In my efforts to obtain justice for our investors I have frequently 
had to draw your attention to the fact that we are treated diff'^rently from 
Canadian investors, and the subject of this letter is another illustration of 
the truth of my statement. If any .Canadian Company were to intro- 
duce a private bill for a railway charter, it would be read a second time 
by the House as a matter of course. The auiUorities I have consulted do 
not know of any instance to the contrary, except the case of our own bill 
in 1896. But if our investors now introduce a bill — those who on the 
invitation of the Canadian Parliament and Government have spent 
$4,000,000 in Canada for its benefit — they are told they must look upon 
its receiving a second reading as a concession obtainable by favour of the 



Goverament 

As these facts may not have been present to your mind when writ- 
ing to the Trustees, and as they know nothing of them, I deem it my 
duty to point them out to you and I shall send a copy of this letter to 
them in order that they may know the diiterent treatment accorded to 
them in this matter, as in many others, from that given to Canadian 



companies. 



I have the honour to be. Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

(Signed) A. D. PROVAND. 



_ Ottawa, April 20th. 1901. 

To the Right Honourable Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 

Prime Minister. 
Dear Sir, 

CHIGNECTO RAILWAY. 

. ^ I ^ne of our interviews the Hon. Mr. Fielding said he wished we 
» ol '; , ike our claim on the government through the Exchequer Court, 
bL 1 tplied that we had not put forward any claim on legal grounds! 
h- on those of morals and equity. 

Since then however I have ascertained that in 1890, a claim arising 
out of a contract to construct parts of the Cape Breton and New-Glasgow 
Railways, was made on the government by Messrs. Stewart and Jones and 
was referred to a Sub-Committee of the Council and afterwards, by 
agreement of the parties, to the adjudication of the Hon. Mr. Tustice 
Burbidge, sitting as a Commissioner. These particulars are taken from 
reports to the Privy Council, approved j6th. July and 20th. August, 1892. 

I beg to bring the foregoing case (which was one of several ) under your 
notice, as it may furnish a precedent for referring our claim to the same 
juuge sitting as a Commissioner to ascertain and report the facts on which 
the Government would be free to act or not as they might deem fit. 

Such a reference might be accepted by the Trustees for the inves- 
tors provided that suitable terms of reference were agreed upon. I shall 
be happy to hear from you on this suggestion. 

I have the honour to be. Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

(Signed) A. D. PROVAND. 



Ottawa, 30th April, 1901. 
Dear Sir, 

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your favour of this 
day, and, in answer, I have again to refer you to my letter of the 20th. 
March last. 

I have the honour to be, 

Yours very sincerely, 

(Signed) WILFRID LAURIER. 
A. D. Provand, Esq. 

Rideau Club, 

Ottawa. 



To the Right Honourable Sir Wilfrid Uuriet^***' ''"'"- •'°"'- '^'^ 

Prime Minister. 
Dear Sir : 

CHIGNBCTO RAHWAV. ' 

.» V^ V 9^]°^ herewith a copy of the Report of the Meetine of 
Membeis of the House held in the Comm.ttee Room on ThuraStyLt 
reprinted from the Evening Journal. nursaay last, 

The Report does not fully convey the sense of the meeting which 
was unaumously m favor of the claims of our investors being Z.S 
iL^t ^™™°«J" """l «"1«1 by compensation. More MembS^Tp^ke 
and stronger words were used than are quoted in the Report 

that rt^v^w i'^ P-^ent said they knew nothing about the claim; others 
that they had merely heard of it. But the result was the same with all 

w^^h^^l. /!?^/"™™"5''^"''''"<>™d»a' <»«s. O'lnely, that 
rnfa?rlv^?fi '5'.?"\""^»"'"^°f°P'"'°" "-r inve.stors had been 
unfairly treated and that they were entitled to an immediate settlement. 
rf^nJ ."^u '™.""'? expressed by those I addres.sed there can be no 
^bt as to the opinion of the House, and any resolution in favor of 
recognising and settling our claim would have been accepted by themeet- 
h,™ ?iSr^ "°»™»°"''5'- I ™ ™« the effect of my statements would 
have been the sanie if the whole 213 Members had been present, 
.h. „„I!f ^^"^ ^i^ they would put a motion on the paper to bring 
the question before the House but it is now too late for a Srate Mem- 
ber's motion to be reached this Session. 

The Government can however do so and I beg therefore to ask if 
cU^nT ''"' " * """'°" '° *PP°'°t a Committee to deal with our 

We desire enquiry and if not granted it will indicate a fear that the 
result would show we were inju.stly treated. 
I shall esteem an early reply to this letter, 
I have the honour to be, Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

(Signed), A. D. PROVAND. 



T„ .1, II 1,1 „, „ „. Ottawa, April 30th. 1991. 

To the Honourable W. S. Fielding, MP. ^ »» 

Minister of Finance, 

_ „. Ottawa. 

Dear Sir, 

CHIGNECTO RAILWAY. 

i„ rff to send herewith a copy of the Report of the meeting of Mem- 
bers of the House which I addressed in the Committee Room last Thurs- 
day evening. It is reprinted from the Ottawa Journal. 

I also enclose copy of a letter addressed to-day to the Prime Minister 
and beg to confirm to you all I say therein, as to the disposition towards 
our investors which dominated the meeting. 

I speak with the utmost confidence when I say that I am certain the 
ooveriiment will meet with no opposition whatever in the House to a 
proposal to come 10 terms with the Company in one of the different ways 
1 nave offered m the correspondence which has passed between us 



DreJiih!i^!.M .5 •'"'"?'''«■ *'^™' members who could not be 
fi!^ ^^" 'S" '°'.""=y 1"" 'W*«d with the views Merest hv 
^ ^^ ^'' '^ f**** '^^ "ndoubtedly a general dS^ on thTJ?^ 

I have the honour to be, Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

(Signed), A. D. PROVAND, 



■♦I 



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